Casting Instruction on the River Avon by
Mr. J.B.S. Notley
J.B.S. "Jack" Notley fished the River Avon for over 80 years. He was born in 1893 at Diptford Rectory. Jack began teaching fishing and fly casting on the Avon in 1919 and continued for over 50 years. Two of his first clients were Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Arthur of Connaught. The Prince was a grandson of Queen Victoria.
Mr. Notley knew John James Hardy personally and through him he "got more pupils than I could deal with and had to turn some down". John James and his brother William formed the tackle firm Hardy Brothers in 1873. In 1911 J.J. Hardy became World Champion Fly Caster with a a world record cast of 81 feet.
Jack Notley died in 1988. This page contains the text from a leaflet he distributed outlining his approach to teaching fly fishing and casting. His views are still valid. He stresses the importance of learning to roll (switch) cast and learning to cope with overhanging bankside vegetation as well as the importance of balancing rod and line. Jack knew how to overcome client's casting faults such as the 'broken wrist' and using too much force instead of allowing the rod to cast the line.
Jack Notley was not enamoured of modern fast actioned 'tippy' rods. He used - and sold - split cane rods which were made to his specifications by John Bazett in Salisbury. I know several current casting instructors who have rediscovered the qualities of a good split cane rod.
Sport is appreciated by many, but there are many more who would gladly
themselves of the chance of participating in it, did they but realize
facilities are available whereby they may receive thorough tuition and
advice with an average chance of sport on actual fishing preserves, and
relieved of the monotony which obtains when attempting to learn under
for Casting, but Casting is not Fishing, nevertheless the angler who
handle his rod and tackle and place his fly or lure wherever he
only when conditions are propitious, but also when they are
have a reasonable chance of success.
surprising, but nevertheless true, that whereas the business man
his special line of business and probably spends years learning and
the intricacies thereof, yet the would-be angler buys an outfit to suit
pocket, goes down to the waterside and "worries along" somehow, when
by a small judicial outlay he or she, as the case may be, can learn to
rod and line under natural conditions on well stocked rivers. And as
choice of Tackle, he or she can take down to the riverside rods of
lengths, weights and balances and thoroughly try them out so that a
one may be selected, for no more can a fisherman cast well with a rod
to him than can a sportsman shoot well with a gun that does not fit.
fly may be cast
on a lawn, but the art of placing a fly on the water in the most
manner, overcoming obstacles, and luring a fish to its undoing, can
learnt under natural conditions. A man may purchase a set of Golf Clubs
learn a perfect swing on his own lawn, but that will not make him a
Golfer; he can only become proficient by playing Golf on a Golf course,
he learns how to judge length, overcome obstacles, shorten his grip or
his stance. So with the Angler; in order to become proficient he must
under natural conditions, where obstacles are met with in the shape of
and trees, and where the wind is generally blowing the wrong way.
is it that
one angler fishing a pool fails to rise a fish and another coming along
him hooks one in the same pool? It is because the latter has the knack
placing his fly or lure in such a way that it is irresistible to the
There is far more in fishing than the majority of anglers realize, and
to be really successful it is necessary to be able to handle with ease
long line, and to place your lure where you wish, whether the elements
opposition to you and bushes abound on all sides or no. To some it may
a surprise to learn that with a high bank or bushes 10 ft. behind it is
simple matter to cast 30 ft. or so straight out or to either side; this
by means of the switch cast, which can be learnt in one or, at the
lessons. One of the reasons that anglers fail to catch trout when
are favourable is because they cannot handle their rod and line as they
do, for it is under the bushes that the fish lie, sucking in the tasty
that drop from their leaves and branches, and also gaining shelter
these are the easiest trout to catch, provided that you can get your
them, as they are not disturbed as much as are their fellows, lying in
stretches of water, which water, being free from obstruction, is
years of fishing and over 50 years of tuition in both casting and
numerous opportunities have occurred of observing where the average
fails. The chief reason is failure to handle the rod correctly. As in
it is very rarely the gun or cartridge that is at fault, it is the man
the gun; and so in fishing under average conditions, it is rarely the
fly that causes empty creels, but the person behind the rod.
an angler can
cast a fairly long line accurately, and cast under bushes, fish should
generally be caught; the better the day, the heavier the creel. The
tendencies of the average fisherman are to use quite an appreciable
effort in casting the fly, making use of the whole rod and not the top
when making the "quickness" or " flip" in both back and
forward casts, and also -leaning forward and stretching out the arm.
should be effortless, and should cause no strain or ache, and it will
not do so
if the correct action and timing are made.
casting is done with the right forearm and shoulder (if right-handed
a single-handed fly rod), and the cast should be made slightly across
In the back cast the right forearm and shoulder are drawn back and the
allowed to swing to the right. It is all very simple and easy, and
practically no wrist work at all, but so many anglers make casting look
to cast correctly by reading how it should be done, it is very
have it demonstrated and explained by the waterside. Casting cannot be
on a lawn as there is no" pull" on the fly when making the back cast,
neither can anyone learn to fish unless one has tuition under natural
conditions. This has been proved over and over again by the number of
the writer has had, who have previously received tuition in casting and
on some pond or similar water, and who had no idea of how to approach a
fish or how to cast under bushes. This latter can only be learnt
by having tuition where there are bushes.
an angler would derive if able to cast a straight line against a
breeze; it can be done, and the effort required is negligible, just the
action and timing; but how many can do so?
taught with their own rods, but it is advisable that beginners do not
an outfit before coming down for lessons, as a large supply of rods and
is kept in stock, and the pupil can "tryout" on the river whatever he
fancies, and so choose exactly what suits him best. It is impossible to
best out of a rod unless the line fits it correctly, and it is
number of anglers one meets who use lines of a gauge and weight that
unsuited to their rods. It is a mistaken idea that in order to cast a
ft. to 50 ft. any strength is required; no effort is necessary provided
line are suited to one another, and the cast is "timed" correctly.
it to himself to have tuition and so prevent any chance of getting a
for it is as easy to commence correctly as incorrectly, yet how many
opportunity? 'Sound beginnings spell ultimate success'. Bad habits are
acquired in fishing as in other sports, and it is necessary for these
to be corrected.
Anglers of some experience may possibly find difficulty in casting
overhanging branches or against the wind, one or two lessons on the
where every kind of obstacle can be found, though there is plenty of
water" too, should quickly put them right. Arrangements can be made if
required, whereby clients may be taught on their home waters.
miles of the School of Casting is one of the finest Trout streams in
Country. Little known and little fished, a grand Fly river and no short
risers. I have fished it over 40 years and much prefer it to any of the
numerous rivers I have fished including the Kennett and Lambourn.
Licences always available on 12 miles of water.
I am not at
all enamoured with the modern Fly rod, which, in my humble opinion, is
stiff and quickactioned, and the rings are much too small. A Fly rod
stiff or quick-actioned top prevents one from placing the fly
bushes, also when striking or playing a heavy fish the top, being
not "give" enough, and so if using light tackle a breakage may occur.
As regards rings, they should be large, but light in weight, so that
be "shot" easily in wet squally weather.
first class rod
builder with over 40 years of experience behind him is now building
me, so that I can offer first quality well finished split cane Fly rods
different lengths with the best possible action for fishing purposes,
light weight rings, and real Agate butt and end rings.
rods are by
no means "whippy", they are exact copies of my own rods, most of
which I have had in constant use for over 30 years; they have a
and middle, but there is plenty of action in the tops. This allows one
a long line from the water in the back cast, and easily drive it
forward in the
forward cast, even against the wind, but at the same time the easy
the top prevents breakages when striking or playing a heavy fish.
All classes of
Fly rods in stock have this action and large rings, and are faithful
my own rods.
This comes direct from one of the best firms in Murcia, Spain, and only
Champion quality is stocked. Salmon, Sea Trout and Trout Casts, also
are tied with Natural undyed hackles.
Only the best quality hackles and hooks are used; no dyed hackles except for Salmon and Sea Trout flies. All dry flies have stiff glossy hackles. As flies are tied on the premises any special pattern can be made up at very short notice. Fly dressing materials-Hooks, Silks, Tinsels, Natural Dun Hackles, etc., always in stock. LINES. Kingfisher Double tapered Silk Fly Lines in all sizes. Also Silk backing. REELS. Beaudex, Pridex, etc. in all sizes Also Fly Boxes, Folding Landing Nets, and everything pertaining to Angling is kept in stock.